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News Analysis Apr 5, 2019 8:42 AM EST

Conservatives can win—and keep winning—with a strong climate change plan

With so much good news, it may be hard to imagine an area that can seriously harm the chances of the Conservatives. Except the party’s lack of clarity on climate change policy.

Conservatives can win—and keep winning—with a strong climate change plan
Ali Taghva Montreal, QC

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

With Justin Trudeau’s government in complete free-fall as a result of the explosive SNC-Lavalin affair, Conservatives nationwide have begun to imagine a return to the Harper era of majorities as Liberals devour each other through petty squabbles.

In poll after poll, the Scheer Conservatives have gained momentum, making a Conservative government the most likely scenario according to the CBC poll tracker at the time of publishing this article.

With so much good news, it may be hard to imagine an area that can seriously harm the chances of the Conservatives.

Except the party’s lack of clarity on climate change policy.

While this lack of clarity is not new, it certainly didn’t start this way. For quite some time the nations conservative movement flirted with the idea of a carbon tax, at its peak, it seemed Ontario’s Conservative would even adopt the policy before the entire movement promptly ditched the policy somewhere in between the rise of populist politics and the adoption of climate change policies as a decided wedge issue for politicians on the left.

Now in its place, Conservatives nationwide have either offered nothing, promised to offer something without detail, and normally ended up with something very similar to the carbon tax.

The end result is not surprising. According to a CIBC financial poll, Paying down debt (26 %) is Canadians’ top financial priority in 2019, followed by keeping up with bills and getting by (14%).

While Canadians struggle with bills, foodbanks continue to see more usage and Toronto shelters remain at 90% capacity, sometimes hitting 99% for single women and men.

For single women, shelter spaces were at 100% capacity at the time this article was published.

At the same time, many Canadians do want to get serious in some way about climate change.

According to a Suzuki foundation, less than 10 % of Canadians believe climate change is fake.  

So Canadians seem to want to solve climate change, but they also seriously want to pay back their debts and avoid bankruptcy while doing it.

Put simply, most Canadians want to handle climate change, just as cheaply as humanly possible.

So where does that leave us? Nationwide it seems anti-fossil fuel governments are surging in British Columbia, and in Quebec, while in Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan pro-energy expansion governments are enjoying notable levels of public support.

While the nation appears divided, the Conservative movement should not attempt to use this moment to abandon the entire climate agenda.

The end goal should be simple, a transition to a low carbon, sustainable and stable energy economy, while prioritizing a balancing act of limited intervention in the market alongside limited harm to each Canadian citizen.

While that end goal is simple, getting there is not. According to a UN climate report, nations will have to put in place a carbon tax of $135 to $5,500 (significantly higher than what the Liberals have put forward) per ton of carbon dioxide pollution by 2030 in order to mitigate the worst of climate changes effects.

At the higher end of that spectrum, a 50 L tank of gas would cost you $638 in carbon taxes alone.

Realistically the average Canadian can’t afford that. Nor can they afford the over $100 billion that has stayed out of the economy, largely as a result of anti-fossil fuel policies.

Here is the really tough thing though: they can’t afford a world flooded by refugees who are forced to escape the worst of the damage caused by the the western industrial economic boom, and now China and India.

With so much on the line, the next government in Canada could open up real dialogue about what the next steps could be.

I would argue that with enough investment in nuclear and hydroelectric energy alongside electric vehicles we could make a realistic and timely transition for a bulk of Canada’s population to a low carbon lifestyle.

You can read the full article on that by clicking here.

In the meantime, I’m interested in knowing your opinion. What do you think about Canada’s environmental policy? Where should the nation go if it decides to abandon the carbon tax?

Join the conversation by commenting below!

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